Monday, December 5, 2011

Traveling with Anxiety: Trip #6- GUATEMALA!

This week I have a once in a lifetime opportunity. I surprised my husband with a week long trip to Guatemala and we leave on Friday. Ten years ago my husband served an LDS mission in Guatemala. This means when he was 19 years old he lived in Guatemala for two years teaching the gospel and baptizing the locals to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Ten years later the church has grown enough that a temple has been built in that area, and next week they dedicate the temple and open it up for patrons. Its such a rewarding feeling for him to know that he helped the church grow there so I thought it would be awesome for us to go celebrate the temple opening and revisit his mission stomping grounds. Especially since he hasn't been back since.

This trip is bringing up a lot of anticipatory anxiety, mainly because I will be leaving my 3 year old and 12 month old behind with family. I have never left either of them before. My baby boy has intense separation anxiety right now I can't even leave the room without him crying in protest. I know this trip will be good for both us and the kids, but that doesn't mean it makes it any easier to leave them.

In a way its nice to look back at my previous trips that I have blogged about and see the same pattern of anticipatory anxiety and the same concerns arising. At least I'm consistent :) It gives me hope that maybe the anticipatory anxiety will be the worst and when I am actually on the trip I will be ok.

I know that I need to prepare, prepare, prepare if I want to feel better and have a successful trip. So I have been putting some time aside to do my ten step mental exercise so I can start reprogramming the negative thoughts with positive ones. The idea is to print this out and bring it in my pocket so I can take it out and read it whenever I need to. Feel free to read the ramblings of my worried head.

What am I telling myself to make me feel this way?

    This is stressful. I should feel stressed. I am going to freak out any minute. This is too much for me. I’ve been worrying about this for months and its now right around the corner. This is going to be soooo hard. I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to ruin the trip. I don’t want to feel stressed. I am going to worry so much about the kids. My baby is going to have such a hard time. What if he cries and is fussy the whole time and is too much for my sister? What if I am too sick to do anything? If I am stressing this much already how bad is it going to be when its time to go?

What if the worst case scenario happened? What would I do?
    Worst case scenarios are:
  1. I am so sick that we have to come home. Or I am so sick that I am no fun on the trip and its a bad experience.
  2. The kids are so miserable and upset that we have to come home. 
After writing this, I took my kids to visit my sister where they will be staying. Watching her interact with my kids has made me feel SO much better. I know they will be fine. So this helps with number 2. I know they won't need us to come home. The anxiety isn't as intense, but it's still there.

If I am as sick as I am worried about, I will have mt Clonazepam with me which should be enough to handle any anxiety I may have. If not, my husband has ALWAYS been super supportive of me when I am sick and he won't think I am ruining it for him.

Alright, now here are some positive affirmations I can use to help me with my other worries:
  • What if I am anxious the whole time? I will ruin the trip for my husband. I don't want to feel this way.

Circumstances are what they are but I can choose my attitude toward them. I can be anxious and still have fun on this trip. I've done it before and I can do it again. I can handle this. He loves me more than this trip. I love and accept myself the way I am. I respect and believe in myself apart from other's opinions.

  • Trips make me anxious. I should be nervous about this trip.
This is overgeneralizing. Just because I have been anxious on trips in the past that doesn't set in stone that I will be anxious on this trip. I am learning to be calm. I'm responsible and in control of my life.
  • This is too much for me. This is going to be soooo hard. 
This may be hard but I CAN handle it. I CAN!
Alright, hopefully this will help me a bit. I will make sure to report on how it goes. Wish me luck!


Friday, October 21, 2011

November Support Call Sign Up is Open!

The next call will be November 17th at 6:30 pm MST. If this is something you want to do again or try out, please sign up. Here is how:

A Returning Member:
  • If you have already signed up for a previous call and sent me your username for Skype and profile card, all you have to do is pay the $2.00 fee. To pay simply click on the paypal button on the right sidebar. *Note* This fee is nonrefundable, even if you miss the call.
A New Member:
  • Please download the instructions here that will explain more about the call (system requirements, how to sign up, what to expect, etc.)
  • Also download, fill out, and email me back the Profile Card here that will help me keep track of who is who.
  • Pay the $2.00 fee by clicking the "Pay Now" button on the sidebar to reserve your spot. *Note* This fee is nonrefundable, even if you miss the call.
  • Sign up for Skype (its free) and email me your username and I will add you to the group list.
The $2.00 fee is simply to pay for the premium membership at Skype to facilitate the calls. I have to make sure that if only 5 people show up for the call, costs will still be covered. Sign up for the November call is officially OPEN! Only 14 people can be on each call and it is first come first serve so sign up today :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reminder for Tomorrow's Call

Reminder: This is your last chance to sign up for the call that is taking place tomorrow night at 7:00 pm MST. For more details click here. There are still a few spots left but time is running out. Hope to see you tomorrow!

Friday, September 23, 2011

ROA now on Facebook!

I have always been hesitant to start a facebook page because I didn't think many people would want to publicly join an anxiety page. But I think its time. I think the benefits can outweigh any doubts. By joining the facebook page you can stay up to date with announcements, inspirational quotes and thoughts from your facebook news feed. I don't have time to spam you constantly :) so don't worry about getting a storm of posts overtaking your page. If you would like to join the facebook page you can view it here.

Thanks and I look forward to sharing more conveniently with all of you!

UPDATE: Due to the request to make the page more private, I have had to switch from a page to a group. This means that you have to ask to join and I will approve you. This also means people can see the name of the group and who is a member, but cannot see what is posted without becoming a member too. As always if you have any questions just let me know.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Support Group October Sign Up

Tonight we had our first support call. I was nervous setting it up and worried about how it would go, but I have to say that I LOVED every minute of it. It was SO nice to talk with people from all walks of life who are going through the exact same thing in their own way. I loved how someone would be explaining something and you could hear people laughing and agreeing because they knew EXACTLY what you were talking about.

I loved it so much that I will be doing it once a month. The next call will be October 20th at 7:00 pm MST. If this is something you want to do again or try out, please sign up. Here is how:

A Returning Member:
  • If you have already signed up for a previous call and sent me your username for Skype and profile card, all you have to do is pay the $2.00 fee. To pay simply click on the paypal button on the right sidebar.
A New Member:
  • Please download the instructions here that will explain more about the call (system requirements, how to sign up, what to expect, etc.)
  • Also download, fill out, and email me back the Profile Card here that will help me keep track of who is who.
  • Pay the $2.00 fee by clicking the "Pay Now" button on the sidebar to reserve your spot.
  • Sign up for Skype (its free) and email me your username and I will add you to the group list.
The $2.00 fee is simply to pay for the premium membership at Skype to facilitate the calls. I have to make sure that if only 5 people show up for the call, costs will still be covered. Sign up for the October call is officially OPEN! Only 14 people can be on each call and it is first come first serve so sign up today :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Last Chance to Join The FREE Support Group Call

Just want to remind anyone who is interested in joining the first Reality of Anxiety Support Group Call- this is your last chance to sign up! The call will be this Thursday at 7:00 MST and there are only 4 spots left. It is done on a first come first serve basis.

When: Thursday, September 22nd
Time: 7:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time

Email me if you are interested and I will get you more information or if you already have the information but forgot to sign up, here's a little reminder.

I am so excited and can’t wait to talk with everybody!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

We Must See Past What it Seems…..

I am sharing a really great story that was originally blogged at the Brave Girls Club. Anxiety has really made me more compassionate towards others suffering with their own trials. This story is such a great way to look at things, I love it. Enjoy!

"After a dear friend telling me about a hurtful experience she’d had this week…..I began thinking again about a story I have told a few times….a story that my children will tell to their children, and maybe even beyond that… because it was such a learning experience in our family….maybe even a turning point…it’s a story that I think about often because we were the main characters in it 3 or 4 years ago, and even though it was something that lasted less than 15 minutes….it changed all of us….and now I see others differently, especially when it seems that they might be main characters in the same story…or one a lot like it. I used to be too embarrassed to tell this story….but I am not anymore. This is a human story that everyone needs to hear, I truly believe this…I hope you will stay with it, it’s kinda long.

As we move along…I want you to think about some of the big signs with big messages that I bet you wish you could wear around your neck sometimes so that people would be more gentle….or even that you could put around the neck of someone you love….so that you didn’t have to go into a big long story to defend yourself or someone else….so that people would just stop judging and and just be kind.

First, if you don’t know my history because you are brand new to Brave Girls Club…welcome welcome welcome! I need to start this story by giving you a little bit of background….. you see, my husband had an accident in 2004 that injured the frontal lobe of his brain……it has taken 6 years to get him back……but in the middle there, between 2004 and now…lots and lots of stuff happened. He was essentially out of it…but not just that….he changed to someone else, we lost him. His personality changed completely, he could not work, he was angry and depressed and could not cope with human beings. He did not feel love or affection, really he only felt anger…rage…and he was suicidal most of the time. He did not remember a lot of things. He could not take care of our family or even himself, really……..(and I want to mention again that through lots of miracles, he is 100% recovered now…we are so thankful….he is even BETTER than he was before his accident)

But……during that time…..he would have these confusing and amazing glitches of time when he would be totally normal. It was bittersweet. They would last for an hour sometimes, and sometimes for days…or even weeks…then he would sink back down into that horrible place. When he was sick, I protected him fiercely. I didn’t want anyone to see him like that…I had faith that someday he would recover….but man oh man it was lonely…I wished every single day that I could just walk around with a sign like this….

….because on the outside…I looked like I had EVERYTHING GOING FOR ME…I looked like I might just have a perfect life….but I was hiding a very painful secret….

Well…a lot of other things happened too………you can imagine what might happen over the years while we have a 7 acre farm, a pretty big international business that we own with lots of employees…..a life that HE managed before his accident, while he just let me do the fun and creative stuff….now we had lots of medical bills…lots of sorrow and lots of distractions……we also had LOTS of kids…..and no one competent managing the business…

Well…after a few years, I couldn’t hold it all together…our business was suffering for all of the reasons listed above and a few more reasons on top of that……..and we discovered that we were really SINKING. Well……one day when he was partly lucid….he was THERE…he was coherent….I told him the condition of our life.

He kind of panicked and he went straight to work figuring out what he could do. It was insanely heartbreaking when he would “wake up” after weeks or months and I had to tell him how much things were deteriorating financially, etc. It was very hard. But when he could, he did what he could….before his mental illness sucked him back into the prison it kept him in most of the time.

He called a sign place and had a huge sign brought out to our house…the kind that you can put letters on, and it was electric and lit up…….He put it by the road in one of our horse fields……then he drove our Suburban….both of our trucks….my classic Thunderbird that he got me for my birthday a few years earlier…..our tractor…all of our tractor implements…the boat that I worked 10 years to get for him (and that caused his brain injury, incidentally)……….and he lined everything up along the fence and he put a price tag on every single thing. Then, he put the letters on that big huge sign and plugged it in.

You have to understand that we had worked for MANY years for those things. We started a business in our twenties and we sacrificed everything we had for all of those years to make it work. We owned almost all of it outright…….but, when I told him that the business was struggling….this is what he did….

Sooooo…..there it was….all in a row……all of our stuff…..out in our field.

All of the neighbors driving by…our friends…the community…..people who knew us most of our lives and people who knew nothing about us…..we were just the young family who lived in that beautiful little farm house on Beacon Light road with the perfect lawn….or what USED to be.

You see, in addition…for months….our once beautifully manicured yard started to be filled with weeds that were now several feet high. I just couldn’t keep it up. The lawn was a nightmare. Everything was just falling apart all around me and my heart was broken over my husband, too. It was humiliating and exhausting and horrible, really.

Well, the sign was not up in the field for more than a few hours…….when my husband’s phone rang….it was someone who saw all the stuff and my husband’s phone number on the big huge sign. We were sitting out in the yard while he was still coherent and he was feeling devastated about the condition of our lawn…..I was apologizing that I just couldn’t do all of it………..he was so heartbroken at his limitations and that he had left me to try to handle our life alone……we were trying to make a plan…..

He answered his phone…I saw that he was just listening…I could hear that the person’s voice was getting louder and louder and louder……… husband just listened. He turned his back to me a little so I wouldn’t hear. But I could hear it….It seemed to go on and on and on……..

These were the things I could hear on the other end of the phonecall….

“You are bringing down the value of my property with that ugly sign!”

“What are you doing?”

“That is the most obnoxious sign, do you have a permit to have that out there?”

“Are you starting a used car lot?”

“You have got to get all of that moved and out of here or I am calling the authorities”

I sat there, mortified, embarrassed, humiliated, mad, sad, devastated. I was certain that this would snap my husband back into his dark hellish place.

But, when the man was done ranting, my husband waited a second and then very calmly said something that I will never, ever forget…….

“Sir,” he said, “There was a time in this country, in this community…when if you drove past your neighbor’s house and saw every single thing they own was for sale in front of their house…and that their lawn had not been mowed for weeks….that you would stop and say….WHAT IS GOING ON, SOMETHING MUST BE TERRIBLY WRONG, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP YOU?”

The man was silent…..and then my husband went on to tell him a few details about what was going on with our family….

The man waited a moment and then his tone changed…..he apologized….I mean, really apologized and then said…

“I am going to call all of my friends and see if any of them need any of this stuff….”


I wish with everything in me that we could have put a sign up on that big stupid lit up billboard in our field that said OUR LIFE IS FALLING APART…. but all that we really could put up is a sign with the price of everything that we owned that was worth any money…….

WHAT IF we could all wear a sign that said what WE REALLY MEANT? What if we could go straight past the small talk……..or the masks…….and we could actually go straight to the heart of the matter…….what if our friends and family wore signs like this?

…we would treat each other differently.

I think we should just try to imagine it………that when a friend is quiet…or not showing up to stuff she usually shows up to….or acting a little “off”….or a family member is wearing pajamas to the grocery store for weeks on end……or not answering the phone…..or the lawn is not mowed…..

whatever it is……….

IT IS A SIGN. It is not a sign that can be read in words and letters, but it is a sign that someone needs to be treated gently…that they need help….most of all, that they need love, understanding…and that they DEFINITELY DO NOT need to be judged.

Every time I think of this story….I want to be better…I want to do better, I don’t want any silent signs to go unread before my eyes or my heart…..I don’t want to make up my own answers to what must be going on…I don’t want to assume………..

Let’s be gentle with each other.

Let’s read each other’s signs."


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Endure it Well

Yesterday morning I awoke with the familiar butterflies in my stomach and the anxiety levels rising. I could feel it getting worse even though I was trying to breathe deeply. I started to get really frustrated. I was tired of feeling sick. I was feeling guilty and annoyed that I was still feeling anxious. I started to worry that things wouldn't get better.

But if I think about it, I have been rushing this whole process. I keep expecting to feel better and then when I don't I am immediately put into a bad mood.

So my mantra yesterday was "You don't have to be all better today."

I really think this lesson is learning to love myself WITH my anxiety. I don't have to be all better in order to be worthy of love and respect from myself.

So last night I was reading in the Bible and came across a story that was an answer to my prayers.

It is about a father that brings his son who has a demon inside him to Jesus to be healed.

Mark 9: 22-24 (bold and italics added)

22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have acompassion on us, and help us.
 23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are apossible to him that bbelieveth.
 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine aunbelief.

This story was another reminder to me that I need to have faith that things will get better. And that I need to pray for help with my doubts and frustration. 

So my goal is to try to stay positive and patient even though things are really crappy. I don't want to fall into the victim trap where I revel in the sympathy that others may give me when they hear of my situation. I want to be strong even when I feel so weak. I don't just want to endure this, I want to "endure it well".

D&C 121:8-
"8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes."

So this morning I woke up with panic. Not worst case panic but pretty severe. I had burning in my arms and breathing wasn't helping. So I told myself its ok if still need to take Clonazepam to help me through the day. So I took one and although it made me tired for awhile, I am now feeling much better. 

I'll get to where I want to be someday, but it doesn't have to be today. I just have to remember that.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Staying in the Present

I have often heard about anxiety a lot of times being about the future or the past but not usually about the present. I saw this quote today:

and I like it because its a reminder to try to stay in the present. Sure it's not that easy to read that and say "Ok I will stop worrying now!" but its still something to think about. My good friend told me when he feels panic coming on he gets out a jar of lemons and smells them because he is trying to associate the smell as something comforting and it helps bring him back to the present. Not sure if that would work for everyone, I've never tried it, but it sounds like an interesting idea. What are some ways you try to stay in the present instead of worrying about your past or the future?


Friday, August 12, 2011

Having the Faith to Endure the Hard Times

Faith- [feyth] -strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence.

I do a lot of thinking when I am in the shower. Its the only place where I can really be alone and let any emotion out that I want without worrying about my kids seeing me so upset. So the other day I was taking a shower and I just sat and cried. I did a lot of praying in that shower. I found myself pleading to Heavenly Father to take away my anxiety and I suddenly heard in my mind,

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

My thoughts turned toward my Savior and how he cried those words which were my same thoughts to his Father in Heaven when he was suffering in Gethsemane. If anyone understood how I was feeling at that moment it was Him. He was certainly in much more pain and fear than I was in and he was all alone.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie was a member of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He knew he was to die shortly, and this talk was his last testimony. He said the following:

"We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane. We know he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him. We know he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death. We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name. We know that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup. We know that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal. As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours."

But He suffered for a purpose and so am I. I do not mean to compare myself to Him by any means. I do hope to someday be like Him. And in doing so I want to learn from His example. There are still lessons that I need to learn and to share. I felt very strongly that I need to endure this pain and have faith that things will get better. It may not be today or tomorrow, things may be rough for a little while, but if I continue to work and not give into the despair than things will get better.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Join My Online Anxiety Support Group!


Risking Medicinal Side Effects is Like Licking the Hand of Someone With the Flu

Would you willingly lick the hand of someone who has the flu? I feel like I just did.

I went to my new doctor today. Turns out I have lost about ten pounds in the last few weeks from all this stress. (Not the kind of diet I would recommend to anyone) I gave him my history of anxiety. He was really great about what my interests were concerning my well being and how he could help me. He made me aware of other alternatives besides medication such as counseling but also informed me all about the different kinds of medications I could take. We decided to stick with the Zoloft and the Clonazepam because it has worked well for me in the past. My only concern with Zoloft a.k.a. Sertraline is the side effects. So to help reduce the chance of getting the them we decided I would take only half a pill a day for the first week to better ease it into my system.I do think I will take another look at counseling, as long as the therapist specializes in anxiety and as long as we a.k.a. insurance can afford it.

So, I just took my first half pill of Zoloft a few minutes ago, and I am so worried about the side effects of (just to name a few)
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • diarhea
  • upset stomach
  • trouble sleeping
happening to me like some of them did last time. Knowing that I could spend the next week more sick than I already am, I still took that pill. L-I-C-K!

I did it because I am hopeful that it will really help me in the long run when it finally kicks in.

----------------------------------------Middle of the Night------------------------------------------------------

Woke up with a panic attack around 3 am. Very unusual for me. So I took a clonazepam and didn't really feel any better so I took another one an hour later (they are only .25mg each) I finally fell back asleep but woke up around 7 still panicking so I took another one. Hard to function this morning but its my daughter's first day of preschool so I had to get up and at'em. I am hoping as the afternoon wears on I will start to feel more normal but last night/early morning is really rough. Cant hold anything down to eat so I feel really weak and tired and lightheaded. I am going to go to the store to pick up some Ensures because they always help me in times like this.

I just keep telling myself just endure it a little bit longer and things will get better soon. I appreciate all of your warm thoughts, prayers, and well wishes my way. I can't count the number of times I have prayed for all of you to find some peace in your lives.

Take Care of Yourselves,


Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Hard Pill to Swallow, Is Medication Right for You?

A few weeks ago when my anxiety flared up after two years of silence, I was able to get it to calm down after a few days. However since then it has been popping up again and again. A panic attack while out at lunch with my sisters, and now I have the morning anxiety again the last two days in a row.

Although I don't usually post horrible pictures of myself up for viewing, I thought this was an exception because even though I am smiling for the camera, I am sick as a dog and feeling like I am going to lose it any second. The anxiety just hit me super hard and it took leaving the restaurant for it to finally go away.

This has me contemplating going back on medication. Are you trying to decide if medication is right for you?

According to the book The 10 Best-Ever Anxiety Management Techniques by Margaret Wehrengerg, "if you can answer "yes" to any of the following questions, you may be helped by medication.
  • Are you having panic attacks a few times a week or more? My experience with people who have panic disorder leads me to think that if people are having attacks that frequently, they might benefit from medication. Their brains may be so agitated that it will take some time to calm the panic. It may thus be too discouraging to get their thoughts and behavior in control without the help of medication.
  • Are you able to push aside ruminating worry when you have something important to concentrate on but find yourself worrying again the minute you have nothing to focus on? You may do okay without medication, but if it is a huge effort or you cannot draw your attention away from worry even for short times, medications are in order.
  • Do you feel sick to your stomach with dread much of the time and find it interferes with eating and sleeping? If so, you will probably respond better to anxiety management techniques with the help of medication, because this level of distress should be interrupted as quickly as possible. Having an agitated brain without relief is not good for your emotional or physical self.
  • Do you immediately flush, have shaky legs, a quivering voice, and a palpitating heart even at the thought that someone might watch you leave a theater, watch you speak up at a business meeting, or observe you ordering food or eating in a restaurant? You might benefit from using medication on an as-needed basis while trying techniques to get over those signs of social anxiety.
  • Do you feel so terrified of attending a party or being in a busy public place like a shopping mall, airport, or school that you refuse to go? You will probably benefit the most from a combination of medication and treatment methods, because this is about the most difficult situation in which to calm yourself. Medication will allow you to focus on using new anxiety controlling skills and social skills that will help you in your interactions with others."

Because I am answering yes to almost every single one of these, I have decided that I am going to go back on Zoloft. I know some of you may think that's a mistake, but I know my body and my mind and now that I am no longer nursing I think I need the additional help to make my days feel more normal. I am tired of feeling sick and scared all the time. Because of the side effects I felt the last time I got on Zoloft, I am not sure when I should actually start taking it. I have the weekend to figure it out since it won't be until Monday before I can even see the doctor. I hope this helps you to figure out what is best for you in your situation. As always, your doctor can probably give you the best advice.


Friday, August 5, 2011


Oh this song couldn't describe anxiety any better, it just hit home today...

Here is the same song including a dance that I had seen before when it first came out. The dance is about addiction, but I think the mean guy representing addiction can still be representing anxiety. When I watched it thinking of it that way it brought me to tears. I love Mia Michaels coreography.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Dealing With Unexpected Anxiety Setbacks

It's been at least a year and a half since I have had a panic attack. But sure enough, Thursday night I had 2 panic attacks and then generalized anxiety ever since. I believe it was brought on due to the fact that I weaned my baby from nursing last week and my daughter's 3rd birthday party was on Saturday. The combination of my whacked out hormones and a huge stressor was more than I could take.

I've noticed a pattern to how I deal with these sudden anxiety outbreaks. I think I get a little better each time at dealing with them so I thought I would share my process (both the good and bad) with you. Hopefully you can adjust as needed for your situation.
  1. The first thing I do is freak out. (This area needs improvement lol). After the panic attacks happened, my mind was racing worried about the impact this would have on the next few days and I was a little out of control. I cried alot and my stomach cramped all night and I couldn't sleep.
  2. The next thing I do is mourn. I mourn for the loss of my anxiety free days. I have my internal pity parties, why me moments, and laying around feeling sick and sorry for myself. This is what I did all morning on Friday. In the past this mourning period has lasted much longer. It could drag on for a week. So just one morning is improvement for me. Maybe someday I will be able to skip this step altogether.
  3. Then I finally realize I need to change my attitude and get to a better place. On Friday afternoon I went to the Reality of Anxiety site and read the following blog posts to get me pumped:
  4. On Saturday morning I implemented the coping strategies in those posts and others I have learned over time. I did a lot of abdominal breathing, I repeated positive affirmations (ex: This may be hard but I can handle it) over and over again, I asked my spouse for a lot of love and support and got lots of hugs and kisses and I listened to my body and ate when I could. Sunday I made sure to have a destress day where I lounged around in comfy clothes and then today I did some yoga and tried to get back to my normal routine.
After the birthday party I felt alot better simply because the stress was over, but Sunday and this morning I still had lingering morning anxiety. I've continued to tell myself it isn't a big deal and it has been going away much quicker. I am hopeful it will be gone completely in the next few days. And if its not, I will reassess if I need additional help like medication.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Daily Postmortem of Social Interactions

When I worked in the software industry, after every release we would sit down and have what we called a "post mortem." This is where we would talk about everything that went well in the release, everything that needed improvement, and what we would no longer do anymore. Seems like a good idea.

I seem to have my own daily post mortem. I can't avoid it. After every phone call, text message, face to face encounter, or facebook post, I find myself reliving everything I said and did. I can't stop thinking and worrying, "I hope that comment didn't offend them." or "Why did I say/do that? That was really stupid." Do you ever find yourself doing that? Is it more often than you feel is normal? I seem to do it every day and I am noticing that I am really lacking self confidence to spend so much time worrying about offending others or not coming off as best as I could have. Its to the point where I feel like everyone must really hate me. Sigh.

There are so many layers to anxiety its like an onion. You can pull away the daily panic attacks or generalized anxiety and you still have so many underlying issues to deal with. Will I ever be okay with who I am right now? 


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thinking about starting a Local Support Group

I get alot of emails from readers asking questions about certain aspects of their anxiety. I feel like I write novel length replies sometimes. Its like texting, sometimes its just easier to call the person instead of typing everything out.

This morning the idea struck me to start a local support group. Something where we can just get together to talk about how we are dealing with our anxiety, a place to find friends that share the same problems and offer support to each other.

Here are a few benefits of support group memberships:
Members become part of a collective voice.
The group is non-judgemental. This creates a safe environment for members to disclose their problems.

Members become more informed

Builds confidence for coping. Being able to discuss their circumstances enables members to look at how they cope, think about the advantages and disadvantages associated and adapt their coping strategies.

Development of skills.

Improved communication

I've done a little research and have only found one local support group in Provo, Utah which for me is a good 45 minutes away. So I am thinking about starting one in the Salt Lake area. Although from what I have read they say its good to get a few people interested in starting one to form a little team as opposed to doing it on your own.

So two questions- if you live in the Salt Lake City Utah area, is this something you would be interested in attending, and if so, is this something you would want to help out with starting?

Just testing the waters...

If you would like to contact me as opposed to leaving a comment, you can email me here.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Are you a Perfectionist or Healthy Striver?

Being a stay at home mom of a baby and preschooler with a husband that travels a lot, I feel that everyday is a real challenge. The simplest thing like going to the store is such a production. This last week I had several appointments during the week where I had to arrange for babysitters or drag the kiddos along with me. On one hand I am proud that I am getting out and dealing with the kids too, but on the other hand, its so stressful for me that I feel like I am frazzled all the time.

I feel like expectations for me are high and that I don't get any slack. At night I lay down and I am so high strung that I have to take time to wind my thoughts down. My body feels tense all the time. I feel like I am going to lose it any minute and just start bawling. I know I need to strike a better balance of relaxation, but its not easy getting to the gym or doing yoga when my two year old thinks its time to climb on me like a play gym.

Sigh. Ok, done venting.

In all reality, I know the only one not giving me any slack is myself. I have a hard time allowing myself to struggle. I often feel like I should have it together by now and I am disappointed in myself for not being perfect. I am a perfectionist, which isn't a healthy pursuit of excellence. The University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center says,

"There are big differences between perfectionists and healthy achievers. Perfectionists believe that mistakes must never be made and that the highest standards of performance must always be achieved. Those who strive for excellence in a healthy way take genuine pleasure in trying to meet high standards. Perfectionists on the other hand are full of self-doubts and fears of disapproval, ridicule and rejection. The healthy striver has drive, while the perfectionist is driven."

Ever wonder if you are a perfectionist vs. someone who is a healthy striver?

 Perfectionist versus Healthy Striver


 Healthy Striver

Sets standards beyond reach and reason Sets high standards, but just beyond reach
Is never satisfied by anything less than perfection Enjoys process as well as outcome
Becomes dysfunctionally depressed when experiences failure and disappointment Bounces back from failure and disappointment quickly and with energy
Is preoccupied with fear of failure and disapproval––this can deplete energy levels Keeps normal anxiety and fear of failure and disapproval within bounds––uses them to create energy
Sees mistakes as evidence of unworthiness Sees mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning
Becomes overly defensive when criticized Reacts positively to helpful criticism

A couple coping strategies to help with perfectionism that I thought the most helpful are:

Increase your awareness of the self-critical nature of your all-or-nothing thoughts, and how they extend to other people in your life.
Learn to substitute more realistic, reasonable thoughts for your habitually critical ones. When you find yourself berating a less-than-perfect performance, whether your own or someone else's, force yourself to look at and acknowledge the good parts of that performance. Then ask yourself questions like these: Is it really as bad as I feel it is? How do other people see it? Is it a reasonably good performance for the person(s) and circumstances involved?

Be realistic about what you can do.
By setting more realistic goals, you will gradually realize that "imperfect" results do not lead to the punitive consequences you expect and fear. Suppose you swim laps every day, not as athletic training, but for relaxation and exercise. You set yourself the goal of 20 laps, and you can barely swim 15. If you are perfectionistic, you soon feel disappointed at your poor performance and anxious about improving it. You may even give up swimming because you're not "good enough."
Suppose that instead you tell yourself 15 laps is good enough for now. You accept the possibility that you may never be able to swim 20 laps easily, if at all. So you continue swimming without anxiety. You don't necessarily stop trying to improve, but you swim for fun and exercise and relaxation-for however many laps you can. Perfectionists often miss out on fun, relaxation and satisfaction.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An Exciting New Project

Something you may not know about me is that I save every email I get from readers of the blog. I think its nice to be able to read them every now and then when I am looking for support. My husband has told me over and over again that I should do something with the emails and comments from the blog so that I have a keepsake of them. I have used the company to make photo books of my family in the past and I have loved them. So I thought I would copy the emails and comments into a book and print it out. As I started researching everything their site can do, I realized I could turn the entire blog into a book. This peaked my interest because I thought I could have a physical journal of my journey with anxiety as well as the blog. Then I thought if I was going to do all of this for myself, maybe their would be people out there who would be interested in a book as well.

So I am currently in the process of creating a book about The Reality of Anxiety. I started out with over 400 pages of information. I want to get it down to about 80, therefore it will consist of only the best of the blog- the hottest topics and most helpful for managing anxiety. This book will not contain the emails I get sent for privacy reasons. Due to copyright issues, I cannot copy everything I found from other places word for word, so it will be quite the project to go through and make everything ready for publishing. But I thought I would mention it now just to get a feel for the level of interest, plus any suggestions you may have of what you would like to see in it.

Its been really fun going back to the beginning to see how far I have come and all the information I have learned about anxiety. I feel that condensing the most useful information into a book will also be helpful for easy future reference since I know I will need it.

The funny thing is when I first started the blog my good friend Ben told me I should write a book and I laughed at him thinking he was crazy.

I don't know when it will be done, but I am working on it a little bit every day. Being the perfectionist that I am it could be awhile :) Perhaps I can try to get it done by this year's World Mental Health Day in October.

What do you think?


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Worst Fears Sometimes Do Come True

Happy to say that my little boy finally came on Nov 23rd. He is such a blessing and a little sweetheart. Meet Paxton:

Most of the time I tell myself I am worrying for no reason, and alot of times my fears are very silly and I know it. And that is usually the case. But I admit I am a big wuss, and I was really concerned about the pain of delivering a baby again. So I did everything I could think of to prepare.
  • I switched doctors and hospitals to be able to deliver at one that was right down the street. 
  • I took a tour of the hospital to be more familiar with where I needed to go.
  • I spoke with my doctor and the hospital personel about how I deliver very quickly.
  • I watched videos about how to breathe during labor and I practiced. 
  • I wrote out my positive affirmations and packed them in my hospital bag.
  • I created a playlist of peaceful songs on my ipod.
However, it is very unfortunate and sad and scary to say that my worst fears about his delivery ultimately came true and that no matter how much I prepared, my fate was ultimately in the hands of other people.

For the first two hours of contractions I was really proud of myself. I did my breathing exercises and handled the contractions really well. I was in good spirits because I figured my epidural would be coming any minute and I could hang on until then. To make a really long story short, even though I told the staff I wanted an epidural as soon as possible and that I deliver very quickly, it still took them 2.5 hrs from the time I asked for it to get it to me and the first epidural only numbed my legs, not the contractions. So by the time I got the correct dosage, it was too late. I ended up delivering my baby naturally and then had the epidural kick in afterwards. Not trying to scare any women out there, but it was the most painful experience of my life. It was a nightmare come true. I still get angry when I think about it. The worst part was that I was in so much pain, obviously so, and the nurses were just moseying around like they see it everyday, no big deal, no need to rush to help me out. Luckily since I deliver quickly the whole torturous event only lasted 4 hours. All I can conclude from the experience is that if I ever have another baby, I will learn how to deliver naturally not because I want to, but because its the only way I can be in control if I need to be.

So after a long break of sleepless nights and lots of baby spit up, I think I am finally ready to take back my life and get things rolling again. Thanks for all of the well wishes sent my way, I really appreciate them.

Anyone else ever feel like they had to rely on others to help them in a scary situation? Did they come through for you or were you let down?

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